Newsstands to Stop Carrying Novaya Gazeta in St. Petersburg

January 14th, St. Petersburg:
Novaya Gazeta logo
Starting in January 2008, “Novaya Gazeta in St. Petersburg,” a local edition of Russia’s most prominent independent newspaper, will no longer appear in newsstands of the Leningrad Oblast.

The area’s two largest newspaper distributors, Lenoblpechat and Nevoblpechat, have refused to carry the publication, according to a statement from the paper’s editors. The distributors blame the move on “a shortage of commercial interest.” However, local readers have told editors that the newspaper is being whisked off the shelves, and is always difficult to find at kiosks.

Meanwhile, one of the paper’s journalists has been fined 500 rubles (€13.91 or $20.46) for his work on the “Dissenters’ Marches,” according to The reporter was charged with disobeying orders from authorities.

Novaya Gazeta is far from the first local publication to face pressure from the district. Some experts believe that the move is the latest tactic used by the governor of the Leningrad Oblast, Valery Serdyukov, in an attempt to create an informational blockade of mass-media not loyal to the administration.

Another local Novaya Gazeta edition in the city of Samara stopped publication in late 2007, under even harsher force from above. The paper’s computers were repeatedly confiscated, reporters were detained near-daily, and a criminal investigation was launched against the editor-in-chief, Sergei Kurt-Adzhiev. Partner organizations, such as the paper’s printing house, were directly visited by militsiya officers and threatened.

Novaya Gazeta’s troubles coincide with a report by the Glasnost Defense Foundation, which discusses the difficulties and dangers facing journalists and the media in today’s Russia.